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Boosting Customer Engagement in the Age of Easy Distractions

Michael Rahm, Director, Product Marketing
October 22, 2018

Customer engagement is something of a singular concept in modern business. Company leaders, particularly heads of marketing departments, can't always agree on the best strategies for creatingit, but at the same time, they know what poor engagement looks like - because it becomes apparent through associated metrics, which we'll address in greater detail below - andunderstand its necessity.

"Maintaining engagement is essential to the overall well-being of most businesses."

We're in a societal age where it becomes ever more difficult to capture and maintain consumers' attention, in no small part because of the many distracting influences individuals deal with in almost all aspects of their lives. As a result, brands may have their work cut out for them when it comes to fostering engagement among certain desired audiences. It may, ultimately, be necessary for companies to look outside the box when seeking ideal engagement development strategies, and consider using tools they might not have initially thought of to bolster their appeal - such as application development platforms.

Breaking down engagement's concrete benefits

Kevin Lau, senior manager of customer marketing at Marketo, stated in a post on his organization's official blog that positive consumer engagement's main advantages are as follows: creating a strong bond between a company and its customers, making it stand out from the competition of other businesses and boosting overall customer satisfaction. The tangential results of those benefits are perfectly clear.

Essentially, even in situations where an individual consumer has a bad experience with an item, brand engagement resulting from successful dealings in the past with the company selling the product reduces the likelihood of losing that person's business. The chances of that sort of abandonment only decrease further when brands make conscious efforts to rectify any mistakes. This can be through prompt repair, refunded purchases, future discounts as apologies or some combination thereof - specifics aren't nearly as important as the desired result in this particular process.

Challenges facing engagement retention

If engagement was a done deal the first time a customer shopped somewhere and was satisfied with everything that happened, people would have lifelong loyalty to a handful of companies and only do business with them. Aka: The Engagement Effect. The only difference would be which organization sold what, and eventually some brand would try to unite everything under one roof. The presence of corporate super-centers notwithstanding, obviously none of this is the case. Engagement isn't an exact science, and some don't succeed in fostering it.

Lau further stressed in his post that while 98 percent of marketing professionals comprehend why engagement is important, only 56 percent of them have buy-in on an executive level for any of their strategies intended to maintain connections with customers. Without the weight that comes with C-suite endorsement, staff in other departments may fail to do their part in keeping engagement alive.: After all, there must be multiple elements that combine to create a good customer experience. Responding more quickly to product complaints or delving into the company's networks to fix a bug affecting the firm's e-commerce website are just two examples of the work people do outside sales and customer relations to contribute to engagement.

Some of the troublesome variables in play here aren't as easy for organizations to counter, like the sheer breadth of options consumers have at their fingertips for just about every product or service they might want. But there's also the question of keeping customers' attention to consider - the difficulty of which, to an extent, stems from how many different choices are available to them. Interconnected snags like this provide further evidence of this issue's complexity.

"Psychology plays a part in building and maintaining customer engagement."

Maintaining visibility

Inc. magazine notedthe psychological phenomenon known as frequency illusion as a method of bolstering engagement. Not unlike the old axiom about buying a blue car and subsequently seeing other blue cars all over the place, it involves making a substantial impression upon an individual through a marketing medium. This could be a viral tweet,successful commercial or anything along those lines - as long as it causes the person who sees it to notice the advertisement's subject more frequently in the real world.

We've established how the distractibility of modern consumers can be a disadvantage. But maintaining a robust social media presence, particularly on a channel like Twitter that constantly updates, can boost engagement, according to Fit Small Business. Whether capturing attention through a humorous (or trenchant) insight or offering ready availability as a customer-service medium, Twitter can help brands stay in consumers' minds more readily. Instagram also helps in this regard, albeit not as directly. Live video seminars or podcasts can have a similar effect, but social media is likely necessary to bring people to them who aren't already engaged with the brand.

The human factor

Companies evoking a positive emotional reaction in consumers lies at the heart of brand humanization, which Outbraincites as pivotal to any engagement-boosting strategy. For this to succeed, someone must act as brand ambassador for your organization, putting a personable face to it in video content and other visual media. Whomever your company chooses for this role must be relatable, boast excellent communication skills, know the product inside and out, gain status as a thought leader and ideally develop a following on social channels.

Fostering engagement through apps

Returning once more to the matter of distractibility, consider the ubiquitous presence of smartphones. More than a few would say they are to blame for the shorter attention span aspect of modern society. This is debatable, but either way, companies can use the mobile arena as a venue for creating greater engagement with interactive apps that help customers take greater advantage of a given product or service. If looking to avoid the cost that would typically accompany an app development project, Appian's enterprise applications platform may be the perfect solution.

Cited as one of the premier systems in Forrester's report on low-code development platformsfor 2017's fourth quarter, Appian offers the kind of speed and ease of use that many similar products can only envy, without sacrificing the capability for creating powerful and interactive apps. Customers will have the ability to connect with your brand like never before, using apps with a full scope of function across desktop and mobile alike. The drag-and-drop visual development system for UX and process design allows for a much faster development time frame per app without in any way sacrificing quality. Additionally, the platform's reusability feature helps your organization establish oversight and consistency between apps while also tracking how customers are engaging with them.

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